Amazon Alleged to Have Sold “Suicide Kits” to Teenagers In New Lawsuits
Amazon, the largest online retailer, has been accused in multiple lawsuits of selling “suicide kits” to vulnerable teens and young adults. The lawsuits accuse Amazon of selling and continuing to sell highly concentrated sodium nitrite, an industrial chemical that is lethal to ingest. The complaint alleges despite Amazon receiving notifications of children dying from suicide after purchasing sodium nitrite, they continued to offer it for sale.
On March 30th, 2023, a complaint was filed alleging two more deaths, of an 18 and 19 year old. Both ingested sodium nitrite in 2020 after purchasing from Amazon. The lawsuit alleges Amazon not only sold sodium nitrite, it also offered additional products as a “bundle” of products to commit suicide. Specifically it alleges Amazon offered Sodium Nitrite purchasers the drug Tagamet. Tagamet is an acid reduction medication intended during attempted suicide to assist in keeping sodium nitrite down after ingestion. Amazon also was alleged to offer an “Amazon Edition” of a suicide instruction book. The book, titled “The Peaceful Pill”, offers instructions on the use of Sodium Nitrite and explains how “cheap and speedy Sodium Nitrite purchase and delivery is … on Amazon”.
The complaints further details shoppers on Amazon.com who typed “sodium nitrite” in the Amazon search bar received “sodium nitrite suicide” as an autocomplete prompt. Also alleged is conduct by Amazon to hide the reports of suicide after parents or family members of those who committed suicide went online to write reviews, Amazon allegedly removed the comments containing the word “suicide” but continued to offer the products.
Amazon faces multiple cases filed regarding suicide. In response to allegations of selling suicide kits and failure to act, Amazon argues sodium nitrite was not unreasonably unsafe or defective. Amazon argued that their website offering a suite of suicide products as a package occurs when users shopping patterns develop and the software offers the next user a similar product selection.
Amazon appears to be arguing in response that so many other users have searched for similar suicide kits on Amazon.com that Amazon has been trained to offer the next shopper the same product set.
Sodium Nitrite Online Sales
Etsy and eBay stopped selling sodium nitrite in 2020 or earlier due to fears of misuse. As of November 2022, Amazon began to limit sales for highly concentrated sodium nitrite to business customers.
Allegations in the complaints accuse Amazon of continuing to sell sodium nitrite despite warnings from parents that children, young adults, and others were using the products for suicide and continuing to offer multiple complimentary products for suicide with sodium nitrite.
Amazon February 2022 Letter to Congress
Amazon submitted a letter to Congress on February 2nd, 2022, regarding the sale of sodium nitrite on their platform. The letter was in response to questions by Lori Trahan the US Representative from the 3rd district of Massachusetts.
“Amazon makes a wide selection of products available to our customers because we trust that they will use those products as intended by the manufacturers. Amazon detail pages provide product information that allows customers to make informed purchasing decisions, but are not a substitute for manufacturer-provided labels, warnings, and instructions. Like many widely-available consumer products, sodium nitrite can unfortunately be misused. When customers report a death or hospitalization that may be associated with a product, our systems flag the incident and we immediately investigate. We evaluate any serious injury or death, regardless of the potential cause, and take appropriate action.”
Amazon also claims in the letter they have parental control offerings and their terms of service ask those under 18 only use Amazon with parental involvement. Amazon goes on to state they have added suicide hotline banners for users who search regarding suicide. Amazon did not answer the questions in the letter sent by US Representatives to Amazon, which included:
- How many Sodium Nitrite units Amazon sold
- How many minors have purchased sodium nitrite on Amazon
- How many users have died by ingesting Amazon sold sodium nitrite
- How many users have purchased sodium nitrite then had product purchase on Amazon stop
- How many users to Amazon were referred by domains that promote suicide, in Google and other web tracking services that provide information about how someone visits a site through a link
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. You can also reach a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Dangerous Product Liability Law Firm
If you wish to speak with experienced product liability attorneys, please contact Schneider Wallace at 1-800-689-0024 or email@example.com. Schneider Wallace is known for our aggressive pursuit of injured persons’ rights through complex litigation and class action lawsuits. To learn more about recovering damages for injuries caused by defective products or a failure to act, schedule a consultation with our trial lawyers at our many offices or online. We practice before state and federal courts in jurisdictions throughout the United States in individual claims, class actions and multidistrict litigation.